South Africa’s Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa, who is eyeing presidency if he wins election for the post of ANC party chief this month, said a woman who accused President Jacob Zuma of raping her a decade ago was possibly telling the truth.
Zuma’s office, in a terse message, said there need not be any confusion regarding the 2006 verdict delivered by a court which found him not guilty and acquitted him of rape charges.
Ramaphosa is contesting against Zuma’s former wife Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma for ANC leadership and his comment was seen as a move to gain more votes by attacking the incumbent president.
Taking part in a radio interview on Thursday, Ramaphosa said the outcome of the case led to Zuma’s acquittal before he became president in 2009.
The case related to Fezekile Kuzwayo, daughter of Zuma’s old friend, who accused him of raping her in his Johannesburg home in November 2005.
When Ramaphosa praised Kuzwayo’s courage for moving the court, the radio interviewer sought his frank opinion on the case.
Ramaphosa said: “I know how difficult and painful it is for a woman to garner the courage to stand up and say ‘Yes I was raped’.
“It must be one of the most difficult decisions she has to make, so yes, I would believe her.”
Kuzwayo, who was 32 years younger than Zuma, faced threats and intimidation and she had to flee the country after her family home was burnt down. She died last year at 41.
During the trial, Zuma said he had consensual sex with Kuzwayo, who was HIV positive, and showered to avoid contracting the virus.
He was then head of the country’s national AIDS council and the insensitive comment fuelled public outrage over AIDS prevention and sexual violence in South Africa.